A Vaccine Is Approved
News of a Coronavirus vaccine, approved for use in the UK, has been a shot in the arm (pun very much intended) for a nation emerging from a restrictive second lockdown. More arduous than the initial lockdown in April/ May, the Autumnal conditions and incoming Winter have made socialising outdoors challenging, if not impossible – despite the classic stoicism and stiff-upper-lip approach often associated with Brits under the gun.
Back to Normal?
While the approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine by the British government marks a tentative ‘beginning of the end’ landmark for many, the mass delivery and implementation of the vaccine will be ongoing for much of the first half of 2021, with senior government officials advising that the tier system, in some form, could be in place until Easter.
Who Gets the Vaccine?
With the final advice on who will be first in line to receive the vaccine yet to be published, it is expected that care home residents, health and care staff, the elderly and the clinically extremely vulnerable will be prioritized, with some of this group receiving the vaccine before the end of this year. Estimates of full implementation of the vaccine stretch as far as the end of 2021, with over 355 million doses of various highly-promising vaccines secured by the UK government’s Vaccines Taskforce to arrive throughout the year.
For the majority of Britons, outside of the aforementioned high priority groups, little will change on a day-to-day level, with concerns from experts around a post-Christmas surge – similar to the post-Thanksgiving surge experienced in the United States – not to be ignored. With that in mind, it’s important to remember that outside of the harshest restrictions - the national lockdown that ended December 3rd, and those imposed on the most at risk regions in Tier 3 - at least for property professionals and those looking to buy and sell property, there is still some freedom to act.
Why Property Matters
The property industry was singled out by the UK government back in May, for its unmistakable significance in buoying up the economy, both in the UK and globally. As a result, viewings are permitted, even where socialising indoors is not.
Agents and potential buyers are encouraged to wear masks, maintain social distancing, limit duration of viewings, and follow sanitation guidelines in using hand gel and cleaning door handles and handrails after making contact. In the short term at least, this practice will not change based on news of the vaccine.
The Good News...
What will change however, is the mood of the industry. The vaccine gives hope, and hope drives most of our decisions, even financial ones. Since the announcement of the COVID vaccine, the FTSE 100 has recorded its best month since 1989. The average house price rose to an all-time high in November with prices up 6.5%, compared to the 5.8% increase seen in October, according to mortgage provider Nationwide.
It appears that not only has the news of a vaccine fuelled our optimism for “life beyond lockdown,” but has also helped to power property seekers hoping to take advantage of the fast-approaching stamp duty holiday deadline. By completing their property purchase before March 31st, home buyers could potentially save up to £15,000. You don’t need to be an optimist to see the benefit in that...